WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Avoiding any specifics about their team's sign-stealing during its 2017 World Series championship season, Houston Astros players Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve apologized Thursday for the scheme that was investigated and punished by Major League Baseball.
Astros owner Jim Crane and new manager Dusty Baker - who replaced the fired AJ Hinch - also spoke at a news conference at the team's spring training facility.
And while the clear purpose was to say, ''We're sorry'' and hope to move on, Crane raised eyebrows with this statement: ''Our opinion is that this didn't impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series. And we'll leave it at that.''
Asked moments later about his statement about the effects on the game, Crane tried to backtrack, saying, ''It's hard to determine how it impacted the game, if it impacted the game.''
MLB did not punish any players for the cheating and Crane said he stood by that.
CHICAGO (AP) - Devin Booker is finally headed to his first NBA All-Star Game.
The Phoenix guard - who felt he was snubbed by voters and coaches when he didn't make the original list for Sunday's game in Chicago - was tabbed Thursday as the player who will replace injured Portland guard Damian Lillard in the game.
Booker was chosen by Commissioner Adam Silver, who makes the final call on injury replacements to the All-Star rosters. By NBA rule, the replacement player has to come from the same conference as the injured player.
Lillard injured his groin on Wednesday night and said he would not be able to play in either the game or Saturday night's 3-point competition.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Joey Logano and William Byron won the qualifying races that set the field for the Daytona 500.
The victory in the first 150-mile race Thursday night earned Logano a spot in the second row for the season-opening Daytona 500. Byron will join Logano in the second row, behind pole-sitter Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and teammate Alex Bowman, who earned the front row in time trials at Daytona International Speedway.
Byron pulled out of line late, received a push from fellow Chevrolet driver Kurt Busch and cruised to the confidence-building win.
The 40-car field for Sunday's race is determined first by time trials that set the front row, then the remaining starting order is based on results from the pair of 60-lap qualifying races. There were five drivers racing Thursday night for two slots in the Daytona 500 and they went to Reed Sorenson and Timmy Hill.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - President Donald Trump will give the command for drivers to start their engines before the Daytona 500.
Daytona International Speedway officials named Trump the grand marshal for NASCAR's season opener, meaning he will deliver the most famous four words in auto racing. ''Gentleman, start your engines,'' has been a staple of races around the country and world for decades.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Thursday the president plans to attend the race. Track president Chip Wile confirmed the news in a release.
TOKYO (AP) - Tokyo Olympic organizers reiterated their message on Thursday at the start of two days of meetings with the International Olympic Committee: The 2020 Games will not be waylaid by the virus that is spreading from neighboring China.
''I would like to make it clear again that we are not considering a cancellation or postponement of the games. Let me make that clear,'' organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said, speaking through an interpreter to dozens of top IOC officials gathered in Tokyo.
The Olympics open in just over five months, and the torch relay begins next month in Japan - a clear signal the games are getting close.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina became the latest school to receive an NCAA notice of allegations over the federal probe into college basketball.
Athletic director Ray Tanner said Thursday the school received the notice about a violation alleged to have been committed by former assistant coach Lamont Evans, who worked for coach Frank Martin for four seasons from 2012-13 to 2015-16.
The NCAA categorized the infraction as Level I, the most serious of its violations. The NCAA's letter said a panel of the Committee on Infractions should review what it called a ''severe breach of conduct.''
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Two former Ohio State football players pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that they held a woman against her will and raped her this month.
Defensive backs Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint - who were kicked off the team Wednesday after they were charged - made an initial appearance in Franklin County Municipal Court in Columbus, and their respective attorneys entered pleas of not guilty.
Judge Cynthia Ebner set bond at $100,000 for Riep and $75,000 for Wint and ordered that the men not have contact with the accuser or each other. They also were ordered not to discuss her on social media.
The case now will go to a grand jury, which will decide whether the men should be indicted.
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